In October of 2020, the blistering headline from Time Magazine said it all, "The Swedish COVID-19 Response is a Disaster. It Shouldn’t Be a Model for The Rest of the World."
Time Magazine was hardly alone in their scathing assessment.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and scientists universally understood that herd immunity was the proven path to battling such a disease and returning to "normal."
Whether by vaccine or natural antibodies, herd immunity had always been the "gold standard" for ending pandemics.
Indeed, when COVID-19 was first identified, our public health officials claimed with confidence:
- Flatten the curve by staying home for 15 days in order to prevent our health care system from being overtaxed.
- Then, presumably after some reasonable period of time beyond 15 days, natural herd immunity will be present in the population.
Herd immunity, we were told, was the ultimate goal.
We never hear about herd immunity anymore.
Has the science suddenly changed, and herd immunity somehow is no longer a thing?
What about Sweden?
Sweden has the "12th highest" population adjusted death rate the media screamed.
They have ignored lockdowns, mask mandates , social distancing, and citizens were told essentially to go about their lives.
The only admonition was to protect the elderly and those at risk. The reasonable assumption was there is no herd immunity for these vulnerable members of society.
They simply must be protected.
After all the vitriol towards Sweden and their presumably irresponsible public health policies in the final analysis, how did they fair?
No one has seemed to notice in less than a year Sweden is now 40th in population adjusted death rate.
Really? How could this be?
First, we must look at a very curious metric that seems to be incessantly touted in the monolithic drumbeat that is mainstream media:
COVID-19 infection rates.
Why are we looking at COVID-19 infection rates with a disease that is overwhelmingly asymptomatic?
Why are we not looking at recovery rates which presumably is a metric of one who possesses COVID-19 antibodies?
In other words, infection that is asymptomatic is a good thing.
Then, if we can manage the people who get sick using common sense (making decisions away from the bullying COVID-19 mob), they may recover.
In fact, this is actually what Sweden was attempting to reach right? Herd immunity?
Despite the mountain of disparaging articles and videos out in both mainstream and social media denouncing the irresponsibility of Sweden, what actually happened?
In the final analysis, without locking down, without forced mask mandates, without destroying peoples’ financial health, without increases in isolation fueled suicides, without forcing the heart-breaking mandates resulting in many elderly individuals dying utterly and completely alone.
Despite all this, how did these evil, cold hearted science-denying Nordic monsters in the final analysis actually do?
It certainly appears they did just as well as everyone else did.
What's most curious is the most pronounced and repeated criticism they have received.
Almost universally, they have been called out for refusing to curb infections. Indeed, the FHM (Swedish Public Health Agency) according to the health journal The Lancet:
"Instead of following evolving evidence, the FHM has doubled down and defended its approach without reconsidering the assumptions on which the failed national approach is based. It has downplayed the roles of asymptomatic spread, aerosol transmission, children as potential source of infection, and the use of face masks. It has maintained an approach that mainly builds on recommendations to take voluntary actions, guided (in our view) more by public opinion than by sound public health policy."
This criticism was universal toward Sweden, and it was also ridiculous.
This is precisely what Sweden was trying to do.
Namely, increase herd immunity.
How could everyone be missing (or willfully ignoring) this obvious point?
Yes, as stated they must protect the most vulnerable members of society, of course.
But herd immunity is the goal and since contracting the disease is mostly asymptomatic, did this not seem like a perfectly reasonable approach?
What about the arguably most important number; deaths?
If herd immunity was the goal, then a determinant as to the effectiveness of this policy would be deaths among the Swedish population directly related to COVID, right?
How did they do versus other countries with a presumption of universal standards of measurement (a huge presumption as different countries have different reporting)?
So, how did Sweden do? Here's the answer, per Justin Fox Bloomberg.com.
Sweden the Success Story
COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population, as of Oct. 14, 2021:
United Kingdom: 206.7
United States: 217.5
In other Nordic countries:
However, Sweden’s performance is actually far better than these numbers indicate.
First, Sweden has been far more aggressive in reporting and attributing deaths to COVID-19.
The issue of how we report and a universal standard of "COVID-19 deaths" is not to be ignored. How we attribute these deaths is crucial to understanding the numbers.
Sweden by all accounts has been more aggressive than most other countries in attributing deaths to COVID-19.
Consider how important accepting the methodology used in calculating deaths is central to our understanding right here in the United States.
In the U.S. for example, we were all sufficiently scared by the 800,000 plus number of "deaths from COVID-19" being reported from almost every media source.
Then, something happened that instantly and correctly shifted our paradigm. We were given intentionally or by accident the all-important gift of context, for those willing to think.
According to the CDC’s own statistics, we were all quite shocked to learn that 94% of the "COVID-19 Deaths" were accompanied by a 2.6x co-morbidity factor.
Meaning each person who died had on average almost three other serious illnesses.
Sadly, the argument can be made they would have had a reasonable chance of dying from just the normal flu. What's the takeaway here?
The bottom line, despite the overwhelming media and political virtue signaling vilifying Sweden’s public health policy, how did they do in the final analysis?
While the rest of the world was locking down, forcing people to wear masks, destroying peoples’ livelihoods, etc.
To quote Bloomberg’s Justin Fox again:
"In sum, Sweden stood out early in the pandemic for its public-health policies, but not so much since last fall. On the whole, it doesn’t look especially remarkable for either its success or failure in combating COVID-19 or its economic performance over the past year-and-a-half."
Sweden approaches this problem by applying proven medical science and rejecting mass hysteria. They do not react like the public health officials in the U.S., U.K., France, Australia, Canada, and other nations globally.
Sweden avoids the monumental policy failures of these other countries and decides to employ actual science and pursue the goal of herd immunity. After all the criticism and predictions of Sweden’s imminent and certain demise, what objectively was the result of its public health policy?
Sweden ended up pretty much like all the other Western countries.
They chose not to acquiesce to fear.
They chose not to panic. They chose to employ reason and yes, science.
Further, they chose liberty and personal freedom.
After sober and thoughtful gathering of the facts by their public health officials, they allowed their citizens to make their own choices with healthcare.
Sweden refused to bow to the global mob and in the end they were correct. The reason we no longer hear about Sweden and herd immunity is because of two irrefutable and terrifying facts:
Sweden chose to ignore the fear mongering cacophony of the global community and proceeded to navigate this pandemic independently applying sound science in spite of the bullying "experts."
Sweden, in the final analysis, apparently was correct.
James Maughan is a board member and regular podcast contributor to the Lepanto Institute as well as former Managing Director of trading at BB&T Capital Markets.
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